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Tourism first for UK Nature Conservation

Our_Land_logo_webUK National Parks & Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty partner with RSPB South East to improve responsible rural tourism.

The RSPB, the largest wildlife conservation organisation in Europe, joins Our Land – a responsible tourism initiative in nine of the UK’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the South East of England to highlight how tourism can help with the conservation of our countryside.

The RSPB has long standing relationships with UK Protected Landscapes, including the South DownsNational Park, High Weald and Surrey Hills AONBs. However this is the first time a partnership has been created with a specific focus on responsible tourism.

The partnership marks the first anniversary of www.our-land.co.uk, a website offering over 500 rural holidays in a National Park or AONB, launched last October by Secretary of State for Culture, Sport & Olympics, Jeremy Hunt, Visit England’s CEO James Beresford and BBC’s Kate Humble, with nearly £1 million funding from DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England.

Every tourism business listed on www.our-land.co.uk is selected for their ongoing commitment to conserving UK landscapes so that visitors can directly or indirectly get involved in helping to protect the countryside for future generations.

To launch the partnership, Our Land’s network of tourism businesses in the National Parks and AONBs join the million strong RSPB members and over 20,000 volunteers who are part of the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement, which aims to reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2020.

Through the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement, Our Land’s tourism businesses will receive advice and support about steps they can take to help wildlife.

In turn, as part of Our Land’s “conservation mapping” Love Our Land campaign, all the RSPB’s nature reserves and conservation work in the National Parks and AONBs are being included on www.our-land.co.uk so that visitors can experience them for the first time alongside places to stay and things to do.

These include PulboroughBrooks in West Sussex, Broadwater Warren in East Sussex, Farnham Heath in Surrey and Brading Marshes on the Isle of Wight.

Our Land’s Amelia Shepherd says “With shared values on conservation, a partnership between Our Land and the RSPB strengthens the opportunity to get rural tourism right – so it works for conservation and protection of the much-loved features of our countryside, rather than against it. This is a significant step in demonstrating how a conservation organisation can work with a responsible tourism initiative and clarifies the importance of conservation within tourism.”

Sophie McCallum, communications manager at RSPB south east, added: “It’s fantastic to be working with Our Land to engage with local businesses knowing that they are already taking practical conservation action. To have them now joining the RSPB’s Stepping up For Nature movement will mean that together we can achieve even more to protect wildlife and encourage visitors to the area to ‘step up’ too.

“This initiative highlights the importance of environmental tourism and the natural world to local economies and we are looking forward to sharing the success stories with our supporters.”

Nick Johannsen, Director of the Kent Downs AONB Unit and Chairman of Our Land says: “Tourism is a vital economic driver in the protected landscapes. Our Land’s partnership with the RSPB is fantastic, highlighting how responsible tourism can be integral to developing conservation and can support local economic growth.”